Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mombar – Showing New Friends Old Tricks

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Mombar, but it’s been consistently on my list of to-go-again places, especially when showing off the nabe to some new visitors. The other week proved totally perfect for this, as we met up with friends, Chris and Joanna who haven’t been to Astoria in quite a while – Joanna being a total newbie altogether.

Being that both of our friends are open to new experiences and they were willing to try something ethnic, I suggested Mombar, and they happily took the bait.

I love that Mombar continues to be a BYOB and we enjoyed a delicious bottle of vino with our impeccable dinner. Here’s what we got:

Lamb Tongue Appetizer – Although some folks in our party were a bit squeamish about this, everyone at the end gave it a fair shot and loved it. While I didn’t mind the image of the tongue at all, some of my friends (and Dan too) preferred not to think about it. The texture was really surprising, as it tasted really soft, sort of like sausage, surrounded by a clear, flavorful broth of onions, pepper, tomato, olives and herbs. It was a great little preview of the goodness that would follow, and I loved pairing it with the thin fry bread that was also brought to the table a few minutes before.

Mussels – While we all love mussels and were eager to try Mombar’s version, I wasn’t overly impressed. Though I liked the light broth they rested in, the actual mussels tasted a bit fishy, and I’ve certainly had better.

Lamb Tajine – I absolutely love tajines, and the minute I saw they had lamb, my decision was made. Unlike the ceramic dome dishes I’ve seen these placed in at other restaurants, this looked more like a gratinee dish, which was slightly disappointing in presentation, but of course what mattered most was what was inside. The meat was tender, succulent and nicely fell apart when making contact with your fork. Certainly the piece-de-resistance was the rich lamb broth, laced with tons of veggies such as corn, peas, tomato, squash, pepper and more. It tasted like a beautiful, rich stew that was ultra filling and a nice thing to share with your dining companion (Dan ate quite a bunch of it).

Salmon en Papillote – Chris ordered the salmon, which I was surprised about, since I don’t associate Mombar with seafood (as evidenced by the mussels). Not only was he happy about his final choice, everyone else was impressed as well, and the salmon turned out to be the biggest success of the evening. The crunchy phyllo shell was to die for, and breaking it revealed an oozy middle of veggies and the tender salmon. I’m happy to report that the fish tasted fresh, and flaked off with perfection.

Sausage Entrée – Dan’s sausage entrée was also quite nice, boasting tons of meat that was immersed in the same kind of concoction as the lamb tongue. For this reason, even though I really enjoyed it, I had trouble differentiating it from the app, and for next time, I’d go with either one or the other.

Service and Cost:
I can’t speaker higher about the service, as we received tons of personal attention and our waitress even spoke French to our friend Joanna, which was great. Chef Moustafa came out as well, and was only too happy to chat us up, provide some history behind all the food and answer any questions we had. He didn’t seem to be in a rush at all and genuinely seemed interested in shooting the breeze with us.

Costs are incredibly fair and for the dinner I just described, we paid about $25/person including tax and tip.

3 Mmmms

Mombar - 25-22 Steinway Street, Astoria NY 11103
N/Q Train to Astoria Blvd

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